As elected officials and many federal government agencies tout and hail the coming expansion of the health insurance to most Americans, there is still a group of county residents who will be left out of any gains made.
The exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the healthcare expansion will lead to them continuing to rely on the County Health Department for badly needed health services. Savings that are supposed to be achieved as a result of more people having access to preventative health care, will not be fully realized, continuing the burden on county facilities which may not receive insurance reimbursements for the care they provide.
And while legal U.S. citizens cannot be denied insurance coverage due to health related conditions or other issues, there is concern that many may not be able to afford the cost of buying the insurance.
Thus a sizable group of people will still need to depend on the county’s public clinics and other emergency health care centers such as emergency rooms and public hospitals for some time to come.
At a minimum, the County of Los Angeles will continue to shoulder the burden of subsidizing the care for the undocumented, which may include up to 4 million persons, 10 percent of the state’s population.
So, in our view, it is premature for State Health Department officials and the governor to presume they can use present funding amounts to help pay for the coming health care expansion.
We also believe that the federal government should make sure the funds it gives to the state are adequate to support the expansion of community healthy clinics and hospitals.
The state should in turn fund the county facilities so they can continue to meet the health needs of those left uninsured.